Poems 25

Young Handel-Bar       (with apologies to Sir Walter Scott)

O Young Handel-Bar is come out of the West,

In all the wide borders his tandem is best

Save adjustable spanner, his weapons had none –

He rode without kit, except a half comb

So faithful to touring, so fast and so far

There never was a cyclist like Young Handel-Bar


He stayed not to brake, he stopped not for stone

He bumped and he bounced, for surface was none;

But ‘ere he alighted at the Youth Hostel gate

The bride had consented, the gallant came late:

For a laggard at travel, who never rode far

Was to wed Freewheel Fannie from Bold Handel-Bar


So bravely he entered the common-room hall

Among the brides clubmates and family and all

The spoke Fannie’s father, a hand on a spanner

(While the poor craven bridegroom betrayed timid manner)

“Oh come ye by cycle, or come ye by car

“Twill cost you a shilling, my bold Handel-Bar!”


“I long rode with your daughter”, young Handel-Bar cried

From Lands End to Groat’s house, my tandem astride

And a shilling, my warden, I never did pay

When a sixpence sufficed my lodging to stay

There are maidens in Britain more lovely by far

And sixpenny hostels for Young Handel-Bar!


“For the sake of old times, before I depart

“A health and a dance I crave, then I will start”

The father demurred and his wife disagreed

And the groom sulked dissent like the wormy bread

But the company present approval did dare

And that was enough for young Handel-Bar.


The bride brought the teapot, our brave brought the cup

And quaffed in one gulp the whole of it up –

Although tea was rationed, and sugar as well,

Our hero had scorched through dale and o’er fell

Then he took her soft hand ere her parent could bar –

“Now, can you pedal?” whispered young Handel-Bar


So stately his form, so lovely her face

There never was hostel such couple did grace

While mother did fret, and father raised Cain

And the weather outside ‘gan pouring with rain

They were off on the tandem, by bush, bank, and scar

“They’ll follow on singles, quoth bold Handel-Bar.


There was mounting ‘mong Wheelers and Clarion too

While father and mother tailed after the crew;

There was racing and chasing o’er moor and o’er lea

But Freewheel Fannie ne’er again did they see

With his half comb as trousseau she travelled so far

And her guardian companion was Young Handel-Bar                  January 1941 



The Islands of the Blest


There’s a path beneath the Bens

          Leading on towards the west

O’er the muir and through the glens

          To the Islands ot the Blest!


By Arkaig and Dessary

          Plodding on with scarce a rest

Mountain pass and inland sea

          To the Islands of the Blest!


Now, what memories awake!

          Limping down to Inverie

Upon the boat with creamy wake

          And the Islands of the Sea.


Towering heights above the Kyle

          Cloudlets floating on their crest

Restless sea, and rock-bound isle –

          Hail! The Islands of the Blest                         December 1945



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